Tue | Jul 17, 2018

Tony Becca | DRS set to change one of its ways

Published:Sunday | June 19, 2016 | 12:00 AM
West Indies batsman Darren Sammy calls for the DRS from the third umpire after being dismissed for his second duck against New Zealand on the third day of the second Test match at the Basin Reserve in Wellington, New Zealand on Friday, December 13, 2013.

Anil Kumble is an Indian. He was one of the world's most skilful bowlers and, as such, he outfoxed many a batsman.

During his Test career of 132 matches, he dismissed 619 batsmen, including all 10 in an innings against arch-rivals Pakistan in 1999.

He was tall, he was a right-arm leg-spinner, he was quick through the air, he was accurate, and he got a number of his wickets with deliveries that cut back into right-handers off the pitch.

Kumble got a lot of wickets leg before wicket (LBW). As a matter of fact, he got the most LBW decisions in history, and despite his 156 winning appeals, many, probably, were turned down, including against the West Indies in 1994.

Today, Kumble is the chairman of the International Cricket Council's cricket committee, and along with such members as Mahela Jayawardene, Rahul Dravid, Ravi Shastri, Tim May, and Ranjan Madugalle, he has recommended a change in how the Decision Review System (DRS) deals with an appeal for LBW.

After dealing with the circumstances leading to an LBW, such as if the ball had pitched outside the off stump and the batsman had offered a stroke, and if the ball had pitched between wicket and wicket, Law 36, Section E, states that "but for the interception, the ball would have hit the wicket", the batsman is out.

That has been the law, or the rule, for years upon years, and nothing has changed where that law is concerned despite the coming of the DRS.

It is as simple as that. All that the law asks for is that the ball would have touched the wicket, be it brushing the off stump or the leg-stump.

The DRS was introduced to make the decisions easier and fairer. It has, however, in many ways, made life more difficult, to the extent that, although I do not agree with them, the Indians seem right not to go along with the present concept of the DRS.

The difference between the law and the DRS is simply this: the law calls for the ball to touch the wicket, and the DRS calls for 50 per cent of the ball to hit the wicket.

If that is the case, the law should have been changed.

It seems that the insistence on 50 per cent of the ball hitting the wicket, and the 'call' remaining with the umpire if indeed, the replay shows that less than 50 per cent of the ball had hit the wicket, is a move to protect the umpire's reputation.

That, however, is not necessary. The idea of the DRS is to get it right, as much as possible.




The recommendation is that impact of the ball hitting the wicket be cut to 25 per cent. That is good, but why 25 per cent? Why not cut it to a situation where once the ball touches the stumps, the batsman is out as the law says it should be?

That would really make the DRS meaningful, as it does with the run-out, where it is used to see if the batsman did get in, or not, even by a whisker; or the stumping, where it is used to see if the batsman's foot was out, or in, even by the slimmest of margins; or the catch behind the wicket, where it used to see if the ball touched the bat, even barely, on its way through to the wicketkeeper.

Those decisions do not call for a percentage. It is either in or not. The batsman either touches the ball or he does not.

There have been many instances where a batsman has gone on to big scores because of the 'umpire's call', because of the 50 per cent leeway, and that is not right.

That is not right, according to the law of the game, and that should change.

Another part of the DRS which needs looking at and which needs changing is that dealing with the front-foot no-ball.




From the time the law changed from the back-foot to the front-foot for the no-balls, it has been difficult for the umpires, and recently, umpires have been missing so many no-balls that it's high time the fourth umpire be allowed to call the front-foot no-ball.

During the just-concluded series between England and Sri Lanka, there were a number of incidents in which no-balls were either called or not called, and one of them led to a problem when, in the third Test - Nuwan Pradeep bowled Alec Hales, and umpire Rod Tucker called no-ball.

It was not a no-ball. The replay showed that it was not a no-ball, Tucker apologised for the mistake, and, almost like Australia's Adam Voges, who went on to score 239 against New Zealand after he was bowled by Doug Bracewell at Wellington earlier this year, Hales went on to make 94.

Voges was on seven in Wellington when he left alone a delivery which ripped out his off stump. Umpire Richard Illingworth called a no-ball when everyone, including the fourth umpire, saw that it was not so.

Illingworth also apologised for the call.

The DRS, all of it, not some of it, also needs to be made mandatory in every Test match. Test cricket is Test cricket, and the integrity of the games suffers when some countries do not use it, or when some countries are allowed to use only some of it.

Just last week, in the West Indies versus Australia match in St Kitts, Jason Holder was given out caught by the wicketkeeper diving to his left.

Holder requested a review. Illingworth, who had given him out, sent it upstairs. It took a long time to see whether the ball touched his bat or not, it did not look like it did, but he was given out on the umpire's call.

There was no "Snicko" to make the call to show whether or not Holder had hit the ball.

The DRS is a good thing, but it can be better for the game if it is used fully and properly, and especially in a way that India can be convinced to come on board.

It would be great also if everybody had to use it, and all of it.

The 'no-ball' is a special call once it is made, it cannot be reversed.